Oct. 27, 1991: Kirrr-bee does it!

Kirby Puckett's home run in the 11th inning gave the Twins a 4-3 victory over Atlanta in Game 6, setting off a raucous 10-minute ovation that didn't quiet until a postgame interview was shown on the Metrodome scoreboard.

There will be one more baseball game in 1991. For that, you can thank Kirby Puckett. Was there ever any doubt?

Was there?

Can't hear you, Minnesota.

Not because you weren't loud. It's because our eardrums have been burned into toast.

For that, you can thank Kirby Puckett.

Puckett slammed a home run in the 11th inning Saturday night to give the Twins a 4-3 victory over Atlanta in Game 6, setting off a raucous 10-minute ovation that didn't quiet until a postgame interview was shown on the Metrodome scoreboard.

In front of 55,155 folks who paid to get in, including about 1,500 who were rooting for the visitors, the Twins made sure the 88th World Series would play through one more full weekend. For that, you can thank . . .

Oh, heck, never mind.

Today is it. Mad Jack Morris for the hometown nine, John Smoltz for the visitors. Biggest game of all.

Morris saw Puckett's ball sail beyond the wall in left and knew that his turn on center stage was next. Is he ready? "Words from the late, great Marvin Gaye come to mind," Morris said. " `Let's get it on.' "

During last night's game, the assembled were a bit less festive, a bit more focused on the game - at least until the very end. It was a bit less civil, a bit more warlike. They booed Kid Edina, catcher Greg Olson of the Braves, who'd been accorded a cheerful welcome at last weekend's games.

There was an air of urgency under Thunderdome. That the Twins had won six straight World Series games there without losing any, in 1987 and 1991, didn't count as much as the need for timely hitting, good pitching and solid defense.

Puckett: three hits, three runs batted in, two runs, one magnificent catch. He didn't take the mound, though. Or sell programs.

"This is the game I'll never forget," he said. "It's pretty awesome."

Down three games to two, straight shots of optimism had been replaced by a mix that included a healthy portion of hope.

The same potion was in vogue four years ago when the Twins brought St. Louis back to town with the Cardinals needing just one more victory.

Did they get it? You don't need to be reminded.

This was Game 6, the sequel, with Puckett in the role of Kent Hrbek, whose grand slam slammed St. Louis in 1987.

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